Queen Victoria was born and raised in Britain, but her ancestry was more German than British. Her mother was Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, her paternal grandmother Queen Charlotte was German, and her paternal grandfather, George III had significant German heritage. The royal family’s German connection was cemented further in 1858 when the Queen’s eldest daughter (Victoria, Princess Royal) was married to Prince Frederick William of Prussia in London. The first child of this marriage became Wilhelm II, the last Emperor (Kaiser) of Germany.
In 1899, Kaiser Wilhelm visited Britain, and took time out from his official duties to spend time with his grandmother, who was then 80 years old. On November 24, the Emperor and Empress dined at Windsor Palace along with the usual cohort of aristocrats and diplomats. It is not actually certain whether or not Queen Victoria attended the meal herself, as she was in mourning for her niece, Princess Marie of Leiningen. It is known however, that the Queen did not attend the musical concert given after dinner by the Carnarvon Male Voice Choir, who had travelled all the way from Wales to entertain the guests.
The meal on this date was not an official state dinner – that particular formality had taken place on November 21 at St George’s Hall. The style of the menu document and the meal itself were essentially the same as the everyday “family” dinner at Windsor, with the only variation being a couple of dishes which, from their names, appear to be concessions to the German members of the family. I have tried to give translations and interpretations of the items on the menu – which was written in French, as was the convention of the time – but it is not possible to be absolutely certain of the style of the actual dishes.
Her Majesty’s Dinner.
Friday, 24th November, 1899.
Consommé à la Portugaise. Purée Madeleine.
(Cold, jellied tomato soup) (Puree of artichokes, white beans, & sago.)
Cabillaud, sauce aux huîtres.
(Cod with oyster sauce)
Filets de Merlans frits, sauce Anchois.
(Whiting fillets, fried, with anchovy sauce)
Quenelles à la Régente.
(A sort of soft meatball, probably of chicken, poached, and served with a
‘Regence’sauce of thin but rich gravy with white wine, truffles and finely minced onions. )
Ballotines de Canard, à la Cumberland.
(A type of terrine of duck with Cumberland Sauce, - port wine, currant jelly,
mustard, orange and lemon juice).
Bœuf braise à la Hussarde.
(Hussarde sauce: browned onions, ham, herbs: see below)
Gigot d’Agneau roti
(Roast leg of lamb)
Faisans. Pommes de terre en rubans.
(Roast pheasant) (Potato ribbons)
Pain d’Epinards à la Maître d’hôtel.
(Spinach bread with herb butter)
Mehlspeise[n] mit früchten. Profiteroles au chocolat.
(Fruit puddings) (Chocolate profiteroles)
Tartelettes à la Suisse.
(Swiss tartelets, perhaps of berries?)
Hot and Cold Roast Fowls. Tongue.
Cold Roast Beef.
As the recipe for the day, I give you a version of the beef with Hussard sauce:
Boiled Beef à la Hussarde.
Mince one onion, parboil it with butter, a little garlic, a bay-leaf, and an ounce and a half of sliced ham. Moisten with bouillon and white wine. Add a small teaspoonful of beef extract, a bunch of parsley and tarragon, two or three shallots, a piece of celery root, and a few peppercorns. Boil, withdraw from the fire and let it stand for a quarter of an hour; then put in the beef cut in slices, and cook for five minutes. Thicken with a piece of butter rubbed up with flour, and serve.
99 practical methods of utilizing boiled beef and the original recipe for stewed chicken ... by Babet; Preface by Mme. M. de Fontclose;
translated from the French by A. R. (New York, 1893)